Standard employee reward systems in the workplace rarely produce results.
You may have invested thousands in a supposedly-proven employee reward system that received very low total participation. Maybe you set up an expensive President’s Club travel reward to motivate your sales team, but only 30% of the floor ended up reaching their quota.
If you’re tired of gimmicks in the employee rewards industry and you’re looking for a program that actually works to motivate and engage your workforce, you have to look past what’s standard and go for a customized approach.
Cash rewards, points systems, and quota-based corporate travel are common in the company rewards industry, but these programs don’t tend to earn a good return on your investment. They come with predictable pitfalls that you can recognize and avoid in the future. By investing in a customized employee reward system that’s thoughtfully and expertly designed, you can surpass these challenges and finally start seeing a return on your investment.
The Pitfalls of Standard Employee Rewards
Most standard employee reward programs do an excellent job of rewarding the top performers. These hardworking, motivated, soon-to-be-promoted individuals receive plenty of verbal recognition from superiors and are consistently earning the top rewards. They’re used to hitting quota and earning the annual free vacation. In fact, they’ve grown to expect it. At this point, they might even feel entitled to their annual week in Fiji.
But what about all of the other employees in your company? In many cases, they’ve gotten used to their reality as well. They know they won’t be the ones receiving the reward at the end of the year, so they don’t try to earn it. If you see this scenario playing out on your team, you can confidently assume your rewards program has ceased to be effective.
To actually improve employee motivation and engagement, you’ll want to carefully examine your existing rewards program and determine the reasons that may have contributed to its failure. These could include:
- One-size-fits-all thinking. Different rewards motivate different employees—but most companies haven’t yet applied an element of personalization to their employee rewards systems in the workplace.
- Expected rewards. When the rewards are the same and come at the same time each year, you completely lose the element of surprise that can be so motivating to your employees.
- Delayed gratification. Most standard reward programs cash out once per year. 12 months is a really long time to work for a reward that might not mean all that much to you by the time you get there.
- Inadequate recognition. Too many employees leave work each day without feeling appreciated, valued, and recognized for their effort. Standard reward programs tend to reinforce this reality by only rewarding the top 5%.
How to Implement Customized Reward Systems in the Workplace
To really make an employee reward system work, you need to take a custom approach. That means your program will be different from every other enterprise. If you’re planning on designing and implementing the program yourself, know that a custom rewards system will definitely take more time and effort to execute. If you don’t have the resources to spare, you could always hire an experienced employee rewards firm to take care of those details for you.
In either case, a good employee recognition program starts with an honest evaluation of your goals. What company-wide goals do you want your program to achieve? What goals make sense for each individual employee (or each role) to strive for along the way? Make sure your team is set up to reach a goal and earn a reward about every three months. That way, they stay engaged throughout the year and don’t lose their momentum.
The key element of every great customized reward system is social currency. Employee reward systems in the workplace are so often tied to monetary or material prizes, and that’s why they don’t work. Recognition—and bragging rights—are far more valuable currencies to employees across the board. Everyone from company stars to the bottom 30% need honest, genuine, and public appreciation to feel motivated in their work.
That’s why you have to implement a customized recognition system with meaningful rewards and a powerful recognition element. A cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all program doesn’t carry the same social weight. When you create a program that addresses the needs, wants, and dreams of your own employees, that’s when you see mass participation in your program and significant improvements in both productivity and retention.
Designing rewards systems in the workplace can be tricky. If you’re handling the process in-house, you’d need to customize appropriate goals for each role in your company and procure meaningful reward items for regular distribution. That work seems reasonable for a short term push, but the most successful rewards programs last more than two years.
Rather than keeping up with prizes and achievements for years’ worth of escalating goals, consider handing the reins over to the experts.
Some employee rewards companies are already ahead of the game when it comes to customizing incentive programs for enterprise clients. The best firms will work with you to design goals and a reward structure that meets the unique needs of your team. Let us handle the implementation and maintenance of your rewards program, while you enjoy the benefits of widespread buy-in and improved employee performance.
At Inproma, we believe everyone should love coming to work every day—and we create incentive programs that make that belief a reality for enterprises across the United States. Interested in how our customizable approach would apply to your team? Let’s talk.